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Thread: Enthuisiast/Gaming Rig on a £700 Budget!

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    Enthusiast/Gaming Rig on a £700 Budget!

    Hi all,

    I posted a thread two months ago asking for advice on an Enthuisast i7 Build. Since that time, I am slowly coming around the the line of thinking that now IS NOT THE BEST TIME to be spending £1500-1800 on a PC.

    My reasoning is thus:
    • PCIe 3.0 will be in the next chipset
    • USB 3.0 and SATA 6GBps should be fully integrated (rather than add-in controllers)
    • Intel's 3rd Gen larger capacity SSD's should hopefully be available by then
    • The mobo will hopefully support future CPU's such as 8-core CPU's


    Because of this, I am considering the possibility of building the absolute best system possible for approximately a third of my original budget, with a view to selling it in the mid-term and clawing back some cash to put towards a new Sandy Bridge PC in Q2/Q3 2011.

    I've managed to spec out a system that will cost around £650-£700 and I'm looking for feedback on:

    • Whether my reasoning is sound and I should buy an intermediate machine or if I shouldn't waste my money (bearing in mind I'm currently running a 2.8GHz Pentium 4 machine from 2003)
    • How I can improve the proposed intermediate system for minimal extra cost (or even cost cutting!)


    The Usage Scenario/Requirements from my previous post still stand:

    • Gaming - Must play all the latest games (FPS, RTS etc) at top settings and with some Anti-Aliasing.
    • General Enthusiast Stuff (Video Encoding, Distributed Computing etc).
    • System Speed & Responsiveness - I have to feel a definitive leap over my existing rig. A SSD for a boot drive/app drive is a must here.


    Obviously the last point is not really plausible in the £700 budget and because of this I will probably be using an old HDD from my current PC. Remember that I will be keeping my existing peripherals (keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers) and I already have the OS so this is not included in the specsheet.

    The System:

    • AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition, S AM3, 3.4GHz, 8MB Cache, 125W, Retail
    • Asus RadeonHD 5850 1GBDDR
    • Crucial memory 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 PC3-12800 Ballistix 1600 MHz RAM 8-8-8-24 Unbuffered NON-ECC 1.65V 256 Meg x 64
    • Asus M4A87TD/USB3, AMD 870, S AM3, PCI-E 2.0 (x16), DDR3 2000(OC), SATA 6Gb/s, SATA RAID, ATX
    • 560W Silverstone ST56F Strider 80%+ Eff' 120mm Fan Dual +12V Rails PCI-E SLi ATX12x 2.01 EPS 12v
    • Sony AD-7240S-0B 24x DVD±R, 12xDVD±DL, DVD+RW x8/-RWx6 ,12xRAM SATA, Black, OEM
    • Coolermaster Elite 335 Black Mini Tower Case with Rear 120mm Fan w/o PSU


    Cost Cutting:

    • CPU: Its not an i7 but it is still able to compete
    • GPU: I had planned on buying two of these but one will do for a short-term system. I've managed to find an Asus one for £215. As they're all mostly reference design at the moment I see no point in paying more for a XFX Black Edition.
    • RAM: I usually always buy Corsair but I've found the Crucial for £100. They're officially CAS 8 but can be run at CAS 7 according to various reviews.
    • MOBO: It has USB 3.0 and SATA 6GBps but its dirt cheap (£87) compared with £230 for my i7 rig.
    • PSU: According to their website, it can support a Radeon 5850. I'd prefer the Corsair but it's £15-20 more expensive.
    • OPTICAL: No cost savings here.
    • HDD/SSD: Reusing an old HDD from current PC
    • CASE: Saving over £100 by going for a cheap steel case. It will fit a Radeon 5850 and again its dirt cheap (£30).
    • COOLING: I'm saving about £60 by forgoing the Megahalems Cooler on my i7 rig and sticking with the retail HSF (so I probably won't be overclocking!).


    Thank you for taking the time to read this LONG post and I look forward to your constructive criticism.
    Last edited by scottismo; 07-05-2010 at 08:21 PM.

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    Re: Enthuisiast/Gaming Rig on a £700 Budget!

    Not sure if this post really helps but your build looks very good to me and your logic is sound! You could probably cut a tiny bit more off the RAM by going for CL7 1333mhz RAM (and possibly trying to run it at CL6) as AMD systems prefer lower latencies and higher speeds but to be honest the price saving will not be over £10 and the difference will be unnoticeable in real life.

    I might be tempted to go for a the 40GB Intel X25-V drives though now and perhaps pick a better drive later if I were you but that depends on your current HDD. If it's not the best then I'd certainly advise you to try a SSD. When I moved from a WD Caviar Black to the Intel X25-V I certainly noticed differences in performance and when I use my siblings pc with a Caviar Blue I can definitely tell the difference in responsiveness. Then there's also my parents pc with an IDE HDD.. Haha...

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    Re: Enthuisiast/Gaming Rig on a £700 Budget!

    Even if you don't want to stretch to a 40GB Intel as recommended above, at least get yourself a new Samsung F3 500GB. It will make a difference and they really don't cost a lot when you consider the overall cost of the system.

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    Re: Enthuisiast/Gaming Rig on a £700 Budget!

    Thanks guys for your opinions so far

    I really really want an SSD but I feel I want one for everything, not just the OS and the proggies. The 40GB takes me out of the £700 budget too! I had also considered the 500GB F3 as stated. I think you're probably right as using one of my current HDD's might make me feel like I've not upgraded my PC at all!

    The current HDD is a Hitachi Deskstar 7K250 from around 2004 so yes it is a bit old, it's around the time when SATA first came out. It doesn't have NCQ or any of that fancy business...

    Remember that I've had my heart set on building an uber i7 rig for some time but now I'm thinking a Sandy Bridge era PC with a 256GB SSD using native SATA 6GBps support on the mobo might be a beautiful thing. Something like the read speeds of the Crucial RealSSD but with greater write speed. Hence this budget rig doesn't need to have an SSD, it just needs to be fast and retain 40-50% of its worth upon selling! I don't know if that's a realistic figure or not though as I've never looked at second-hand PC's and I usually build rigs to last me 5+ yrs or more upon which they're worthless

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    Re: Enthuisiast/Gaming Rig on a £700 Budget!

    Yeah, I'm of the same opinion. Sitting on a 320GB Samsung until I can afford a 160GB Intel SSD

    You know how much of a difference a good SSD can make, so you'll see equally how a 6 year old hard drive could harm the performance of even a great PC. And for the amounts of money we're talking, why worry? If you want to save even more, get a 320GB drive!

    I don't think it's a good time to be buying a PC anyway, speaking personally. i7 is great and all, but Intel are supposedly going to replace it with a new socket when the next load come out.

    Meanwhile you're on AM3, so you've got a straight route to 6 cores, probably 8 cores when they come out, and so on, so forth. And to be honest, are CPUs that important? Think about all of those people with Q6600s who are still more than happy with them - graphics cards age much faster than processors. That's an awesome build, and it'll probably last about 6 months less than the £2000 build you were proposing. Perhaps even longer than an i7 would last if AMD implement a really great CPU upgrade path so you shoot straight to 8 cores in a few years' time!

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    Re: Enthuisiast/Gaming Rig on a £700 Budget!

    Quote Originally Posted by snootyjim View Post

    I don't think it's a good time to be buying a PC anyway, speaking personally. i7 is great and all, but Intel are supposedly going to replace it with a new socket when the next load come out.

    That's an awesome build, and it'll probably last about 6 months less than the £2000 build you were proposing.
    That's exactly why I started thinking about this "budget" rig! I could see a scenario where that expensive i7 rig ages and devalues very quickly over the next 18 months! I'm really warming to this budget rig. I just wish it would play Crysis a little better

    The main bits I am slightly worried about are the case and the PSU. I checked them out before posting to make sure they could handle a 5850 but there's something about spending so little money on those components that makes me worry lol! A £30 case seems too good to be true and most of the reviews for the PSU were done about 4 years ago! Any thoughts on this? I'm probably worrying for nothing

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    Re: Enthusiast/Gaming Rig on a £700 Budget!

    Quote Originally Posted by scottismo View Post

    The System:

    • AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition, S AM3, 3.4GHz, 8MB Cache, 125W, Retail
    • Asus RadeonHD 5850 1GBDDR
    • Crucial memory 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 PC3-12800 Ballistix 1600 MHz RAM 8-8-8-24 Unbuffered NON-ECC 1.65V 256 Meg x 64
    • Asus M4A87TD/USB3, AMD 870, S AM3, PCI-E 2.0 (x16), DDR3 2000(OC), SATA 6Gb/s, SATA RAID, ATX
    • 560W Silverstone ST56F Strider 80%+ Eff' 120mm Fan Dual +12V Rails PCI-E SLi ATX12x 2.01 EPS 12v
    • Sony AD-7240S-0B 24x DVD±R, 12xDVD±DL, DVD+RW x8/-RWx6 ,12xRAM SATA, Black, OEM
    • Coolermaster Elite 335 Black Mini Tower Case with Rear 120mm Fan w/o PSU
    The X4 965 is on Scan Today Only this weekend for £132.

    The 870 chipset does asymmetrical Crossfire.

    However this 890GX motherboard does symmetrical Crossfire and has SATA 3.0 though:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Asus-...-SATA-RAID-ATX

    These 890GX motherboards also have US3 3.0 too:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Gigab...Gb-s-SATA-RAID

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/ASUS-...-USB3-5200MT-S

    The Gigabyte is not the best 890GX based motherboard for overclocking AFAIK. The Asus motherboard is also on Scan Today Only too.

    If you are going for a single card setup I would look at this Seasonic unit:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/520W-...0TX12V-V23-PSU

    This Seasonic unit is also worth looking at if you are considering a Crossfire setup:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/620W-...0TX12V-V23-PSU

    This case is also quite good for the price too:

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/172779

    Here is a review of this case by Pob255:

    http://forums.hexus.net/chassis-syst...eview-pob.html


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    Re: Enthuisiast/Gaming Rig on a £700 Budget!

    BTW, once you get to 20 posts you are eligible for free postage from Scan:

    http://forums.hexus.net/scan-care-he...tup-guide.html

    http://forums.hexus.net/scan-care-he...0-07-08-a.html


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    Re: Enthuisiast/Gaming Rig on a £700 Budget!

    Couldn't you think about getting a really good case now and just keep using it for your next PC? If you choose carefully it will last fine and will be quieter/have better cooling and save you money in the long run as you won't be buying 2 cases.

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    Re: Enthuisiast/Gaming Rig on a £700 Budget!

    Same with the PSU as these are quite heavy so when reselling them back out it won't be as easy to (unless you price it very cheap including the delivery).

    But to be honest the PSU looks pretty good.

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    Re: Enthuisiast/Gaming Rig on a £700 Budget!

    Quote Originally Posted by scottismo View Post
    The main bits I am slightly worried about are the case and the PSU.
    Silverstone make some excellent PSUs, I wouldn't be too worried about that. And if you want to replace it in a couple of years, do it - and then keep it as a spare. No harm in that.

    And I'm sure the case will be fine. I've got a RC-341 in my Desktop #2 (see my sig), and I'm very happy with it. I've got a P180 myself, which cost much more, and I don't really think there's a massive difference between the two, apart from (obviously) 5.25" and 3.5" bays, and support for larger motherboards. But that's just an issue of size more than anything else.

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    Re: Enthuisiast/Gaming Rig on a £700 Budget!

    The Seasonic units I suggested are better than the Silverstone one IMHO. The Silverstone unit only has a pair of 6 pin PCI-E power connectors too as opposed the 520W Seasonic which has an 8 pin and a 6 pin PCI-E power connector.

    Also the Seasonic 520W unit has fantastic reviews from both JonnyGuru and Hardware Secrets:

    http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php...Story&reid=185

    http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/954


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    Re: Enthuisiast/Gaming Rig on a £700 Budget!

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    The Silverstone unit only has a pair of 6 pin PCI-E power connectors too as opposed the 520W Seasonic which has an 8 pin and a 6 pin PCI-E power connector.
    You have an excellent point that I was unaware of. From my research I have found the following:

    • 5850: 2x 6-Pin PCIe
    • 5870: 2x 6-Pin PCIe
    • 5970: 1x 8-Pin + 1x 6-Pin PCIe
    • 480GTX: 1x 8-Pin + 1x 6-Pin PCIe


    So on paper at least, it appears that having an 8-pin or 6+2-pin is an advantage for the PSU you propose. The only thing I question is whether the 6+2-pin will ever be used because it seems the only two GPU's on that list that require a 6+2/8 also require a "650 Watt or greater power supply". Assuming future GPU's follow a similar pattern, it would seem a sub-600w PSU is not going to allow for a more powerful card. Having said that, am I really going to upgrade the GPU at a later date or am I going to buy a new PC altogether - the Sandy Bridge PC of my dreams perhaps - or am I going to find that this PC that is designed to bridge the gap will actually end up lasting me much longer than planned...

    Couldn't you think about getting a really good case now and just keep using it for your next PC?
    I had originally planned to do this with the i7 build. However if I buy this PC with a view to it being an interim PC, I don't think its very practical to keep the case because then I would have to buy another case anyway in order to be able to sell it on...

    BTW, once you get to 20 posts you are eligible for free postage from Scan
    Indeed! A fantastic advantage of these Hexus forums and one I will celebrate with a smiley . It practically nullifies any price advantage another supplier has because even if they're a few quid cheaper, I would still pay something like £7.50 postage!

    The 870 chipset does asymmetrical Crossfire.

    However this 890GX motherboard does symmetrical Crossfire and has SATA 3.0 though:
    Again this is a good point and one I had considered. Catering for Crossfire would bump the cost of the PSU a little and of the motherboard as well. I like the idea of having two GPU's as I had originally planned but I'm not sure about the idea of adding one later on. I think by the time I need a new GPU I will probably fancy the latest generation that is available at the time and again as previously mentioned I don't know if I'd keep this PC past 2 years or so.

    Anyone think 40-50% of its value could be retained upon selling around 18-24 months from now? Again, many thanks for the comments so far!

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    Re: Enthuisiast/Gaming Rig on a £700 Budget!

    Supposedly AMD Bulldozer will be socket AM3. Hence it could be quite possible that the latest AM3 chipsets will work with the first iteration of AMD Bulldozer.

    Seasonic makes many of the better Corsair and Antec units.

    The Asus 890GX motherboards seem to have a slightly better VRM design than their current 870 counterparts and also have some form of cooling. This should help if you want to overclock the CPU.

    Anyway a decent 800W PSU will power an overclocked Core i7 920 and a pair of HD5970 graphics cards:

    http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/H...ossFire/2.html
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 08-05-2010 at 10:17 PM.


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    Re: Enthuisiast/Gaming Rig on a £700 Budget!

    The stock cooler for the 965 is actually a very good one. I used one to overclock before I switched to water cooling. With good air flow in the case you can still get a good overclock.


    NZXT Beta Evo Mid Tower Case
    * Fits ATX Standard Motherboards and Power Supplies
    * Fits large 10.5" performance graphic cards
    * Expanded cooling directly cools video cards and CPU
    * Support for up to 6 120mm fans with the option of dual 140mm at the top
    * Screwless installation for hard drives and external 5.25" drives
    * Black Internal finish for sleek look
    * Meshed front panel allows for better airflow than traditional cases
    * Superior wire management with bottom mounted :: PSU and CPU punchout for heatsink removable
    * Removable PSU filter
    * 180 degree Turned HDD for a cleaner internal finish and better wire management
    * External Dual radiator support
    * Top mounted USB/Audio for convenient usage

    http://www.cclonline.com/product-inf...00&tid=gsearch

    I agree with Cat the 890 is a better long term board with sata 6 and usb 3.0.

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    Re: Enthuisiast/Gaming Rig on a £700 Budget!

    The 890GX boards do indeed come with Crossfire but they're limited to x8/x8 speeds and the board also comes with the added cost of the integrated graphics. I believe the 890FX boards support x16/x16 but they are too expensive for my planned build.

    The stock cooler for the 965 is actually a very good one. I used one to overclock before I switched to water cooling. With good air flow in the case you can still get a good overclock.
    Good to know! Thanks for you recommendation of the NZXT case too, it sounds promising!

    The Asus 890GX motherboards seem to have a slightly better VRM design than their current 870 counterparts and also have some form of cooling.
    Sounds good...would you be able to show me where you got the info? These new boards don't seem to be on the Asus UK website at the mo

    So as we stand, here is the revised spec (taking into account generous suggestions from this thread):

    • AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition, S AM3, 3.4GHz, 8MB Cache, 125W, Retail
    • EAH5850/2DIS/1GD5 - 1GB Asus HD 5850 , PCI-E 2.0 (x16), 4000MHz GDDR5, GPU 725MHz, 1440 Cores, DP/ 2x DVI/ HDMI
    • Crucial memory 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 PC3-12800 Ballistix 1600 MHz RAM 8-8-8-24 Unbuffered NON-ECC 1.65V 256 Meg x 64
    • Asus M4A89GTD PRO/USB3, AMD 890GX, S AM3, PCI-E 2.0 (x16), DDR3 2000(OC), SATA 6Gb/s, SATA RAID, ATX
    • 520W Seasonic S12II-520 Bronze 12cm Silent S2FC Fan, 80+ (85%) Eff. A0TX12V V2.3 PSU
    • 500GB Samsung HD502HJ Spinpoint F3, SATA 3Gb/s, 7200rpm, 16MB Cache, 8.9 ms, NCQ, OEM
    • Sony AD-7240S-0B 24x DVD±R, 12xDVD±DL, DVD+RW x8/-RWx6 ,12xRAM SATA, Black, OEM
    • Beta EVO - NZXT BETA EVO, Black, Mid Tower Case w/o PSU


    This is currently working out at £726.28 inc. Free Delivery from Scan and £3.99 Delivery for the RAM from MicroDirect. Still considering whether or not to go for Scansure given that it adds about £19 to the total. I'm fine with all the components though it doesn't hurt to cover yourself for the CPU fitting I suppose...

    Overall, looking good I think?

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